By Mike Giles
The Meridian Star
Too hot to fish? I think not. While many lakes and reservoirs are getting pretty tough, the action’s heating up on area creeks, streams, and small rivers. And they’re also full of feisty spotted bass if you know where to look. One area creek that is off the radar screen of most anglers due to its shallow, debris filled waters prohibiting bass boats and outboards from access is Okatibbee Creek.
If you want a low impact, stress free day away from the roar of outboard motors and other anglers, then fishing small waters such as Okatibbee Creek should be right up your alley.
Flowing south from Okatibbee Lake, Okatibbee Creek offers anglers many access points off local roads. Okatibbee is derived from the Choctaw Oka, meaning water and tibih, meaning fight, from a dispute the Choctaws had with the Creek Indians from Alabama. These days, thankfully, the fighting has died down, for all except the Kentucky spotted bass that inhabit the waters.
Last Saturday morning Johnny Cumberland launched his canoe on a secluded stretch of the creek near Meridian and I came along for the float. As we floated in a southerly direction it didn’t take long for a lunker to smash my shallow running chartreuse/coachdog colored crankbait and head for parts unknown. The fish wallowed near the surface thrashing the water briefly before diving down again. After a pretty good battle I landed our first fish of the day, a catfish no less. Needless to say we weren’t catfishing but the battle was challenging and fun and we quickly released him and continued downstream.
After fishing a stretch of slack water without much success Cumberland switched gears and pitched a white spinnerbait near a brush top and his first bass of the day nailed it and put on quite a show. Pound for pound the diminutive spotted bass are the hardest fighting fish in this part of the state. Cumberland continued catching bass as we floated further south.
The creek’s gently flowing current was carrying us along at an easy fishing pace and we only had to occasionally paddle to adjust our route, away from snake filled overhead limbs. Cumberland switched to a medium sized Rebel crawfish crankbait and quickly caught a few more bass. The bass were holding in areas with current flowing around logs, brushtops and other current breaks and this avid angler was really hitting the right spots.
As we worked our way downstream we continued catching bass on small chartreuse colored crankbaits and really had some action. But then we rounded a bend and suddenly the world looked different as the creek was filled with logs and fallen trees, completely covering the creek in some locations. For the next hour and a half we crawled over and under logs with the canoe and portaged around some sandbars to get back on track.
As the habitat changed I switched to a white spinnerbait and sent it into a small pocket that had water flowing through like a funnel. Shad skittered across the surface and a nice spotted bass nailed it. After a short battle I released the bass and continued fishing until we got on the downstream side of the funnel. Once we got out of the main current flow I pitched the spinnerbait up to the base of a cypress tree and slow rolled it towards the boat and another spot almost took the rod out of my hands right at the boat. I was able to sustain the initial charge and finally subdued the bass.
Cumberland also switched back to a white spinnerbait and had another bass nail his lure right at the boat. But this one was very different and it was all he could do to hold on. Turns out this spot was the biggest of the day and looked like a football, it was so fat!
We continued our leisurely float and picked up a few bass along the way until we came in sight of a bridge, our takeout point. Wham, one last cast had elicited another bone jarring strike from a Kentucky and the fight was on again. After subduing the fish we admired him for a minute and quickly released it for another angler to catch.
About the only downside to our fishing trip, besides encountering logs and trees blocking the creek, was that it came to an end so quickly. On a positive note, we released every fish we caught so the next angler could have a chance to feel the thrill again and again. Carpe Diem!
Contact Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org